Monday, May 09, 2005

Recommended Gaming: Park-o-Rama

Sega SC3000
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The Sega SC3000 is considered a rare beast indeed in most countries, but if you lived in New Zealand or Australia (or Japan) in the mid-80's you'd have routinely come across them. Some were also available in South Africa, Italy and Spain. I got one after selling my well-used Sinclair ZX81, and to this day consider it my favourite little micro' of the time. Hardware-wise they featured a rubber keyboard, Z80A processor, 32k ram (another less common model, the SC3000H came with 48k and a 'proper' keyboard), 256x192 graphics, 16 colours and 3 sound channels. They had two big things going for them: a truly excellent version of BASIC, and Sega's quality software titles. BASIC came on a cartridge (in fact, 3 different versions were offered, one which also expanded system ram) and was quite close to MSX BASIC. Close enough that it usually didn't take too much twiddling to convert listings over. Sprite support was the real plus of the SC3000, with multiple layers of sprites of multiple colours being easily moveble, and collision detection too was well supported. A broad range of drawing tools were also available, from point plotting, through lines, polygons etc and all able to be filled. This micro could make anyone look like a coding wizard. In New Zealand we had a magazine for a while that would include tips and listings. A plotter (!) was available which utilised 4 different coloured pens simultaneously and did a nice job. Standard joysticks were terrible, real blister-inducers, but I persisted. Programs could be saved to audio tape, but a SF7000 'control station' was also available which used micro floppies.
The cartridge library was not huge, but did feature excellent ports. I had Border Line, Congo Bongo, Yamato, Champion Tennis, Champion Baseball, Flipper, Sinbad Mystery, Monaco GP, Pop Flamer and Exerion. I think my favourite to this day is Border Line, a really addictive title that most would never have heard of. There was enough support domestically in New Zealand for the distributor to publish home-brewed software too.
And the really neat thing about them is... the GP32 can run the games! Park-o-Rama is a nice emulator that also supports the SG1000 (a console that ran SC3000 carts). Games are out there (I suggest searching with 'SC3000' or 'SG1000' filters) and I'd recommend Border Line, Monaco GP and Champion Tennis to get started.
You can find more information on the SC3000 at http://www.retrogames.co.nz/ and http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/atari/segahard.html

Reviewed by: Alyinsanfran

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